UK: Microgeneration Strategy Published By DECC

Last Updated: 3 July 2011
Article by Humphrey Douglas and Wei Wu

On 22 June 2011 the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a Microgeneration Strategy (Strategy) along with the Microgeneration Government-Industry Contact Group Action Plan (Action Plan). The publishing of the Strategy follows an initial consultation launched on 12 July 2010 and final consultation on 22 December 2010.

The Strategy, as part of a wider package of Government measures aimed at increasing the use of renewables, cutting carbon dioxide emissions and growing the green economy, sets out the initiatives that will support increasing uptake of small scale, renewable microgeneration of power and heat.

The Strategy focuses on non-financial barriers to microgeneration which must be tackled to maximise the effectiveness of the financial incentives that have been put in place. The financial incentives are essentially the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs)1 which support microgeneration of electricity and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which supports renewable heat generators and producers of biomethane. The Strategy also complements energy efficiency policies, notably the Green Deal, which is expected to be available from autumn 2012 and which could be extended to apply not just to the financing of energy efficiency, but also microgeneration.

In line with the terms of the Green Energy (Definition and Promotion) Act 2009, the Strategy is restricted to England only, although some proposals may apply across Great Britain. The devolved administrations have been consulted and will be developing their own plans for microgeneration.

What generation technologies does The Strategy cover?

The focus of Strategy will be electricity generation technologies under 50 kW in output, and heat generating technologies less than 300 kW. This includes:

  • air, ground and water source heat pumps;
  • solar photovoltaics;
  • solar thermal water heating;
  • biomass boilers;
  • micro combined heat and power;
  • micro wind turbines;
  • fuel cells;
  • micro hydro schemes; and
  • passive flue gas recovery devices.

Microgeneration Government- Industry Contact Group_(GICG)_and The Action Plan

The basis of setting out the actions in the Strategy is that, in many cases, the nonfinancial barriers to microgeneration uptake are best tackled by the industry itself with Government support where required. These actions in the Strategy are set out with key deliverables, milestones and responsibilities, which are incorporated in the Action Plan. The GICG will, acting as a steering board, oversee the Action Plan.

Establishment of the GICG was first recommended following initial Strategy consultation. The GICG will provide a single point of contact with Government to discuss and tackle non-financial barriers facing mass deployment of microgeneration technologies and implementation of the Strategy. The GICG has the following objectives:

  • to produce and coordinate execution of an industry Action Plan which implements the Strategy;
  • to feed into work that supports consumer take-up of microgeneration; to support work that seeks to improve the skills and competency of the supply chain;
  • to support the British manufacturing industry, without causing barriers to EU trade; and
  • to coordinate communication of the objectives and outcomes of the Strategy with involved trades and the general public. The GICG Action Plan includes the following tasks:
  • Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) – to maximise the effectiveness of the MCS scheme in ensuring highquality design and installation of microgeneration systems and improve consumer confidence.
  • Energy Performance Certificates – to create regulatory environment and assessment framework that enables accurate representation of the contribution of microgeneration technologies to low carbon homes and buildings.
  • Skills and knowledge – to ensure that there are sufficient levels of skills and knowledge in the industry to meet the demands of a rapidly growing sector in line with UK carbon reduction and green economy policies.
  • Warranties and insurance – to ensure that effective consumer protection schemes are identified and fully communicated to the market.
  • Technology – to promote a system approach to microgeneration technology deployment, produce clear guidance on the various technologies, improve consideration for grid and connection issues, and encourage a reliable market growth for microgeneration.
  • Communication – to achieve consensus within the industry on core messaging and to promote a collaborative approach to dissemination.
  • Community delivery – to encourage and support uptake of renewable energy technologies by communities and to facilitate area-based approaches.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that increasing the deployment of microgeneration technologies will be particularly important in meeting the UK's high demand of energy and carbon targets. While it may be true that microgeneration is not an alternative to large scale renewable energy generation (or it is argued by some, increasing nuclear and gasfired generation), the Strategy is welcome in the renewable energy industry, in particular on its focus on removing non-financial barriers to microgeneration. In addition, it is hoped that the Strategy will give clear policy signals and increasing certainty to investors recently dented by evolving government policy on FIT degression.

Whilst the Strategy is focused on small scale renewable energy generation, the Renewable Energy Infrastructure National Policy Statement (NPS)2, which is among five other finalised Energy NPSs published on 23 June 2011 by DECC, perhaps makes more significant strides and further signals the UK Government's stated intention to provide market certainty by giving developers increased planning policy confidence to bring forward applications to build the infrastructure needed.

Footnotes

1 Further details of FITs please see our previous briefings:

- UK feed-in tariffs – should developers stay or should they go?"

http://www.blg.co.uk/publications/briefing_notes/uk_feed-in_tariffs_-_should_de.aspx

- DECC proposals to protect FITs scheme http://www.blg.co.uk/publications/briefing_notes/decc_proposals_to_protect_fits.aspx

- "DECC confirms FITs cut – is there a silver lining?"

http://www.blg.co.uk/publications/briefing_notes/decc_confirms_fits_cuts_-_is_t.aspx

2 This NPS covers the following types of nationally significant renewable energy infrastructure:

  • Energy from biomass and/or waste (>50 megawatts (MW))
  • Offshore wind (>100MW)
  • Onshore wind (>50MW

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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